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Osceola County TIF lawsuit appealed again

SIBLEY—A final order handed down by a district court judge in a civil case about tax increment financing and wind turbines in Osceola County has been appealed to the Iowa Supreme Court – again.

Third Judicial District Judge David Lester ruled on June 5 in favor of the defendants – the county board of supervisors and the city of Harris.

They had faced a lawsuit filed during the fall in 2015 by a group of county residents and taxpayers in Osceola County District Court in Sibley.

Al Brueggeman, Dan Breuk­er, Tom Bremer, Roger Bosma, Mark Dillehay, Randy Rowe, Allen Rowe and Jarrod Wallace – the plaintiffs in the litigation – are resident taxpayers of the county and of the Harris-Lake Park School District.

On June 14, the plaintiffs’ attorneys filed a notice of appeal to the state Supreme Court from the final order entered in the case “and from all prior and subsequent adverse rulings and orders inhering therein,” according to court documents.

In his ruling, Lester denied the plaintiffs’ petition for a writ of certiorari and declaratory judgment that they filed Nov. 3, 2015, and dismissed the lawsuit with prejudice, which means the plaintiffs cannot bring another lawsuit on the same claim.

A writ of certiorari is a procedure to challenge the actions of a lower court, a board of supervisors, a city council or any governmental body. Declaratory judgment determines the rights of parties without ordering anything be done or awarding damages.

In August 2015, the city and the county entered into a verbal agreement in which Greg Spaethe, Harris’ mayor at the time, requested and consented to the supervisors creating Urban Renewal Area No. 7 out of land within the community’s boundaries and wind energy conversion property within a two-mile radius of the city.

The plaintiffs originally alleged that the supervisors during the fall of 2015 adopted an illegal resolution creating an urban renewal area, which includes the city of Harris and nearby property that is home to several wind turbines.

In conjunction, Resolution No. 10-15/16 and Ordinance No. 47 established URA No. 7 and an urban renewal plan and divided the tax revenue levied on that area as TIF to help fund about $2 million in sewer work in Harris, a city of about 160.

The plaintiffs challenged the actions of the supervisors and the city of Harris and claimed that they would be harmed as taxpayers.

They previously appealed a final order from Lester in the litigation on Sept. 14, 2016, to the Iowa Supreme Court.

The Iowa Court of Appeals ended up with the case and ultimately sent it back to Osceola County District Court.